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Alive with Passion

Heal

Thinkstock: mihtiander

Faced with a diagnosis of terminal illness, this former “white coat” medical professional chucked the statics and went surfing.

This article originally appeared in our February 2006 issue. I am an anecdote. In the language of modern medicine, this means I don’t count. Medical statistics disregard me because, in 2001, statistically given three to six months to live, I disregarded both the statistics and recommendations for chemo and radiation therapy. This morning instead of lying in the predicted hospital bed or grave, I went surfing. Afterward, I cared for five dying patients whose cancers were less advanced than mine had been — all of whom had given a better chance of survival than I had. Why am I still alive and surfing and volunteering at hospice with greater joy than ever before in my life, when so many other cancer patients with far better prognoses are suffering and dying? I believe the answer can be found in two words fear and passion. Before my own diagnosis, I spent most of my working life in intensive care and emergency rooms, at the bedsides of critically ill and dying people. Decade after decade, I watched as men and women crumpled in fear as they realized that they were truly going to cease to exist i …

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From the ArchivesCancer SurvivalSurfingDeathFearless Living

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